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Band backs 3rd annual Wounded Warrior Project Motorcycle Run in Mt. Pleasant

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
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The band known as Dirt Road Sunset, featuring (from left) George Estochin of Melcroft (drummer); John Bienia of Mt. Pleasant Township (lead vocalist/guitarist); and Sandy Smith of Normalville (keyboardist) will be selling compact discs at the 3rd annual Wounded Warrior Project Motorcycle Run on Saturday at Veteran's Park in Mt. Pleasant. Event registration will begin at 11 a.m. The public is welcome attend.

George Estochin has been making music with a heart heavy with both sadness and pride.

Estochin, a Melcroft resident and the drummer/vocalist for the band Dirt Road Sunset, lives each day awaiting updates on the condition of his daughter, U.S. Army Spec. 1st Class Laura Marie Estochin of Perrys Point, Md., who may lose her right leg due to injuries suffered during a classified military mission, he said.

“She was going to make the military her career. It tears my heart out when I see her walking with a cane and dragging her leg,” said Estochin, 59, of his daughter.

“But she says she'd do it all again if she had to. She'll always be my little soldier girl,” he said.

As part of Saturday's 3rd annual Wounded Warrior Motorcycle Run in Mt. Pleasant, Estochin will speak about his daughter's plight and the importance of supporting the Florida-based nonprofit organization.

The project, founded by wounded Vietnam War veteran John Melia, strives to raise public awareness and enlist the public's aid in meeting the needs of severely injured service men and women as they transition from active duty back to civilian life, according to the project's website, woundedwarriorproject.org.

The organization offers job training, provides training to soldiers' caregivers, lobbies Congress to improve benefits for wounded service members and provides a way for wounded veterans to meet, the site states.

Brandon Miller, the coordinator of the run, said Estochin contacted him in May to tell him that, for every compact disc his sells, $5 would go to supporting Wounded Warrior project on behalf of the run.

“I think it's amazing that George and his band are helping me raise money for my fundraiser when he has a wounded veteran in his own family,” Miller said. “I think it's going to make a big impact on those there when they hear his story about his daughter.”

The band — formed by Estochin in January — also includes lead vocalist/guitarist John Bienia, 43, of Mt. Pleasant Township and keyboard Sandy Smith, 63, of Normalville.

Since forming, the group has made two albums, “All Roads Lead Home” which has sold more than 700 copies and the recently completed “Waiting for the Sunrise” which includes several tracks featuring Kortney Jean, a local singer-songwriter-musician.

All album proceeds have gone to support Wounded Warrior Project, Estochin said.

The group will be on hand at the Mt. Pleasant VFW Post 3368 on West Main Street to sell copies of both albums starting at 4 p.m. Estochin will speak during dinner.

Bienia — who attended Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School — is proud to have the opportunity to provide such support in the area where he grew up, he said.

“It's for a good cause, and it gets our songs heard. I want these songs to put wings on people's hearts,” he said.

Smith agreed.

“It just makes you feel good to do something like that, he said. “George's heart is in this. This is his baby. And it brought us all together.”

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or apanian@tribweb.com.

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